France to unveil aerospace crisis plan worth up to €10bn

French President Emmanuel Macron talks with Safran Chief Executive Executive Philippe Petitcolin during a visit at the 53rd International Paris Air Show at Le Bourget Airport near Paris, France, 17 June 2019. [EPA-EFE/BENOIT TESSIER]

A French emergency plan for the aerospace industry to be unveiled this week could be worth up to €10 billion, including an expected €1 billion investment fund, business newspaper Les Echos reported on Sunday (7 June).

The plan, aimed at helping the sector recover from the fallout of the novel coronavirus pandemic that has slashed air travel, will comprise various measures including loan guarantees and support for research and development, Les Echos said.

France’s economy ministry declined to comment.

Aerospace giants face massive virus disruption to order books

The economic crisis caused by the coronavirus is also threatening the aviation industry. While Boeing’s production of commercial aircraft is virtually at a standstill, Airbus intends to downsize production. EURACTIV’s partner La Tribune reports.

The country’s transport minister said earlier on Sunday that France was seeking to create a €1 billion fund as part of the crisis package.

That was in line with the amount cited last week by sources familiar with the proposals, who told Reuters that government and industry officials were negotiating a privately led investment fund to help small aerospace suppliers.

“For one of the funds, that is more or less the target,” the minister, Jean-Baptiste Djebbari, told the news channel LCI when asked if €1 billion was an amount being envisaged.

He did not specify what that fund would cover or how much other funds might be worth, adding that the aerospace initiative would be presented this week.

Les Echos, like other French media, said the plan was due to be unveiled on Tuesday.

Djebbari said the plan would notably seek to protect aerospace firms from foreign takeovers, citing interest from Chinese firms that “are making offers at a time when they (French firms) are in difficulty”.

As with multibillion-euro support already unveiled for the car industry, France would seek job guarantees, Djebbari said.

As part of the plan, Defence Minister Florence Parly had discussed with President Emmanuel Macron the possibility of bringing forward certain military orders, he said.

Coronavirus grounds Airbus and Boeing’s lofty plans 

Developments in the aerospace industry are falling by the wayside because of the coronavirus outbreak’s huge impact on the sector: US planemaker Boeing has abandoned international joint venture plans while European rival Airbus has nixed a project aimed at producing electric-powered aircraft.

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